SHANE WATSON: My 20 party rules (step away from the sequins!)

My 20 party rules (step away from the sequins!) How to dress like a grown up with SHANE WATSON

  • UK style expert shares her top tips for dressing for the party season 
  • READ MORE: Sorry, but if you’re over 50, sequins are a ‘no’!

Christmas party season is officially here, now all we have to do is find something to wear. And yes, we do know this challenge gets harder every year.

Once it was something short and black, with a sparkly thing in your hair. Now the list of party dressing dos and don’ts is longer than your Christmas lunch shopping list. Here are my key dos and don’ts…

DO consider how hot you’ll be

The most glamorous element of your look should not be something that’s too warm to wear in a crowded room. Sequin covered, feather jackets, beaded, things with fringing… all could be trouble.

DO wear your shoes in

Those new suede platform sandals should be comfy. You bought those kitten-heel mules precisely because they’re just the right height to wear all night, but have you actually tried them for any length of time? Have you worn them for a whole night at home?

If they’re a bit on the snug side, wear with thick socks until they fit like a glove.

Kate Moss’s all-black look works so well because she is wearing red lipstick and plenty of jewellery

DO get a blow dry

You can wing it and maybe your home blow-dry technique is practically professional, but post 50, the single best thing you can do for your party look is get yourself to the hairdresser. A great blow-dry should look good three days later, so it pays.

DO mix up your textures

Velvet with satin or silk. Suiting with lace. Jacquard with silk. Wear a lurex top under a satin-lapel tuxedo or velvet shoes with sheer tights and a slinky viscose dress.

DO wear something pretty under a jacket

Shirts work provided they’re silky but it’s prettier to wear a blouse with a neck tie or a lace-trimmed layering top.

DO bling up

There’s lots of black in the shops for Christmas and it can look gorgeous, but if you’re going in that direction be prepared to pile on the bling with earrings, a pearl on a choker, red lips and nail polish. Head-to-toe black is for daughters only.

DO wear party tights

Put your opaques away and gently ease on 20 denier black tights (remove rings first) or maybe dotty ones.

DO wear your best undies

It may sound a little French fashion editor and you may be more concerned with tummy control and comfort. Fair enough, just saying that you’ll feel better for quality underpinnings. They add to the sense of occasion.

DO show off your lacy bra

A glimpse of pretty bra lace in the neck of a buttoned-up jacket can be charming.

DO colour block

I’m a fan of a rich coloured velvet jacket for an easy party hack but a suit is smarter and bolder and having a moment.

Olivia Wilde adds a pop of colour to her blue velvet suit with some pink, pointy shoes 

DO pick a strong colour or black with gold and silver

This is not the time for teal or cream or a low-key maroon. Also, everything you wear on the night should be sheeny, glossy and tactile.

DON’T wear plain shoes

Fabulous shoes put the ‘party’ into ordinary smart-casual clothes. You can wear last year’s dress with new silver slingbacks or pointy mules. And it’s amazing how any old tuxedo trousers are transformed by a shiny ankle boot or a suede platform.

DON’T be tempted by the two-weeks-only look

I’m a fan of some silver and gold at Christmas, partly because you can wear them at other times of the year, but not so much red sequins.

DON’T wear something you’ve never worn before

Same as the shoe rule — you won’t know how it feels. Likewise, don’t wear something you haven’t tried on for a couple of years, even if it was your never-let-you-down velvet dress.

On the night, you may find yourself unable to raise a glass because the arms are too tight.

DON’T wear anything tight

There is a temptation at this time of year to force yourself into an hourglass jacket you can barely do up. We get seduced by clothes that are spangly or ornate or dramatic (how about a cloak!).

We forget that we’re going to be scoffing sausages on cocktail sticks leaning up against the cooker.

Make like Pamela Anderson and put your opaques away in favour of some patterned tights 

DON’T do your make-up in the car vanity mirror

Or maybe do, if that light is better than the light in your bathroom. The greatest enemy of the over-50s in party mode is too heavily and unevenly applied foundation. 

If you walk into a room and think everyone looks chalky and orange, then sorry to say you may need to double-check your own face.

DON’T wear OTT party earrings and a necklace

It’s one or the other.

DON’T wear a high neck

It’s not forbidden. it just looks a bit too covered at this time of year; and warm.

DON’T carry a bag unless it’s outfit oomphing

So, small and silver or gold on a chain.

DON’T stint on mascara

Happy party season!

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